COVID-19 & Communications: Jordan Powers' Perspective

What industry do you work in?

I work in marketing and communications in the nonprofit sector, specifically a contemporary art museum and school.

How have things changed for your communication style or plan over the last few months?

Museums have long been transformational, yet physical, experiences. In the past several months, I’ve gone from marketing distinctly in-person experiences to promoting virtual exhibitions, programs and classes. This has not only changed what and how we are communicating, but who we are communicating to.

Our audience is no longer limited to those who can access our physical space to experience art or a class. Our galleries are now accessible to visitors from across the country, and we’re enjoying having campers from several states in our virtual classrooms this summer. Most recently, I found myself continuing this new style of communication while also pivoting to a full communication and marketing plan on welcoming our visitors back to our physical space as we planned to reopen the Art Center on July 7.  

What has been the most challenging or interesting thing you’ve encountered as you’ve shifted your communications due to COVID-19?

The most challenging component during COVID-19 has been navigating the speed and frequency of which we are communicating with our audiences. There is a delicate balance between keeping our members, visitors, students and staff informed and engaged, and creating audience overwhelm.

We’ve met that challenge by asking our audiences what they need and want during these unprecedented times, via survey and member outreach, instead of making all decisions internally. This has led to some unexpected, yet wonderful and successful, opportunities.

What advice do you have for communicators dealing with changing communication needs or crisis communications?

Be nimble and be willing to pause. As communicators, we exist in a specific state of urgency; it’s part of why we are good at what we do. But in a moment where the situation is not changing day by day, but hour by hour, it is essential to not always jump to an immediate response. Evaluate, redirect where necessary, and speak directly and transparently to your audiences. This is where trust and loyalty grow.

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